A NIGHT INSIDE THE GREAT PYRAMID 67
for very quickly I found that the sensing of invisible life around me rapidly rose into complete certainty. There was something throbbing and alive in my vicinity, although I could still see absolutely nothing. With this discovery the realization of my isolated and uncanny situation suddenly overwhelmed me. Here I was sitting alone in a queer room that was perched more than two hundred feet above the ground, high up above all the million people of Cairo, surrounded by total darkness, locked up and imprisoned in a strange building on the edge of a desert that stretched away for hundreds of miles, while outside this building—itself probably the oldest in the world—lay the grim tomb-cluttered necropolis of an ancient capital.
The great space of the King's Chamber became for me— who had investigated deeply into the psychic, into the mysteries of the occult, into the sorceries and wizardries of the Orient— peopled with unseen beings, with spirits who guarded this age-old building. One momentarily expected some ghostly voice to arise out of the all-embracing silence. I now thanked the early builders for those narrow vent-shafts which brought a steady but tiny supply of cool air into this hoary old room. That air travelled through nearly three hundred feet of the Pyramid before it arrived; no matter, it was still welcome. I am a man accustomed to solitude—indeed glad to enjoy it— but there was something uncanny and frightening in the solitude of this chamber.
The all-encompassing darkness began to press oh my head like an iron weight. The shadow of uncalled-for fear flickered into me. I brushed it away immediately. To sit in the heart of this desert monument required no physical courage, but it did require some moral fortitude. No snakes were likely to emerge from holes or crevices, and no lawless wanderers were likely to climb its stepped sides and enter it at dead of night. Actually, the only signs of animal life I had seen came from a scared mouse which had met me early in the evening in the horizontal passage, and which had darted hither and thither between the creviceless granite walls in a frantic effort to escape out of reach of the dreaded beam of torchlight; from two incredibly aged yellowish-green lizards I had discovered clinging to the roof of the narrow cutting which extends inwards from the niche in the Queen's Chamber; and, lastly, from the bats in the subterranean vault It was also true that a few